A Conversation with Birdeater directors’ Jack Clark and Jim Weir.

Jack Clark and Jim Weir are Australian filmmakers who recently created their debut feature film – Birdeater. The film has won awards at festivals around Australia and is now going international. After months waiting to see it, I was finally able to watch it at the Brisbane International Film Festival. Birdeater was one of my most anticipated movies of the year and it did not disappoint. It was a harrowing and hilarious experience that perfectly encapsulated young Australians. Read on for my conversation with Jack Clark and Jim Weir.

FRAZIER: “I have read about how challenging the shooting was with weather, actors changing and funds running out so I wanted to ask how you maintain motivation when all things feel hopeless and over in production?”

JACK: “You really must rely on each other. We had our worst moments when we were in ourselves and not communicating. To establish the tone of a set is such a big part of being a director that is often overlooked.  We realised that if we established the tone on set it would spread across everyone. Ultimately, the crew and cast were the biggest support for us. Especially people like Roger Stonehouse (Director of Photography) who were shooting every single day.”

JIM: “For upcoming filmmakers, follow through is important. Doing the entire life cycle of a project is where you really learn. It’s a common trap we saw at film school where when you start a project and it gets tough, they would throw in the towel. Another one is when you have a project that might get made, people will just start thinking of the next thing. Just having the discipline to ride the life cycle of a film.”

FRAZIER: The paranoia game, these men always wearing masks in front of their partners, it all felt like I was watching people I knew. Can you talk about creating these very specific but relatable moments and characters for an Australian audience?

Jack Bannister as Charlie, Mackenzie Fearnley as Louie, Clementine Anderson as Grace, Ben Hunter as Dylan, Shabana Azeez as Irene, Alfie Gledhill as Murph, Harley Wilson as Sam.

JACK: “It was all about bringing an audience to the bucks night. Irene and Grace come to the party which is something that girls aren’t usually present for. We felt like that was enough for the characters to panic and reveal their paranoias and insecurities. The paranoia game just plays into all this.”

JIM: “Something we used as a rule of thumb is start with an archetype where the audience will instantly form an opinion of them. Then, add dramatic contradiction that opens them up to being more interesting. Like Dylan, he is this party animal and antagonist that is desperate to have a good time but also is deeply lonely and sad.”

FRAZIER: What did the writing process look like for both of you?

Clayton D Moss and Jim Weir

JACK: “We are both writers since film school. It has taken a while to build up a regularity with writing. They always said it at film school that you need to write everyday, and it felt very daunting but slowly it did become a regularity. It is a lot of shit ideas I feed Jim that sometimes work and are exciting. We were always writing. We were writing on the day; we were writing narration on the last day in case we needed it. It is just a constant thing. Then you get the actors on board and if they are good, they will have their own opinions.”

JIM: “Actors will see something in their character that is there but is usually a small part of the character that they latch onto. Most of my day-to-day job is being available for conversation and being able to talk through ideas and try to work out what we are trying to say. I will just sift through 1000 ideas Jack throws at me and I will just say what is good”.

FRAZIER: So the core focus is just on chipping away everyday together at it?

JACK: “It is definitely hard. I remember I used to get nice notebooks. A big change for me was getting really shit notebooks because then they aren’t precious about what is on the page. I also like the process of writing it because you are already editing it from physical to digital.”

FRAZIER: “So you don’t do the first draft by hand? It is just writing all your ideas down first and then bringing it onto the electronic document.”

JACK: “If my writing was more legible, I would trust myself. But honestly I would just focus on not being too precious.”

FRAZIER: “I won’t ask you again about Wake in Fright but I did hear you both talk about the Celebration, Nashville and Mishima, but more specifically this period of watching just the weirdest films you could in AFTRS. How important do you think this period was and its effect on you as filmmakers?”

Clementine Anderson and Jack Bannister

JACK: “A lot of the movies we watched in film school were probably above my paygrade. I probably latched onto a cool dolly. It’s more the process of realising how many different and unique perspectives are out there. It is realising that if you want to make something that is cutting you have to overwhelm yourself with content. There are still so many areas I haven’t even scratched yet.”

JIM: “It is crucial. Slowly building up that film literacy is important because when you are stuck you will have a catalogue of great movies in your brain. An example would be we have seen so many movies with a character having a quiet moment reflecting in a bathroom mirror. We had the idea that in this bathroom there is no mirror because it denies the girls a moment of reflection.”

JACK: “You will come to a scene and shooting its coverage and straight away you will think “I know how to shoot this scene.” You have to forcibly stop yourself and realise you have taken that movement or shot from something else. You just have to be aware that you have taken it from something else.”

JIM: “Something we are quite conscious of is having as many references as we can outside of the genre and especially not taking references from recent films that are doing the same thing. That is when you have work that feels derivative. You have to go further back. People say Birdeater feels original but that is because so much of it is stolen from films people haven’t seen.”

FRAZIER: “Yeah I remember you saying Jim that if you just watch enough films you will shoot in the way you watch.”

JACK: “It is tough as well and a question people in film school need to ask themselves. If you want to make narrative content, do you like movies and do you watch them.”

FRAZIER: “I know Jim you have said that the best advice is to just keep making shorts and eventually they will look like what you watch, but I was wondering if you both had any specific advice on the ability to keep the film dream alive when it doesn’t feel like anyone cares and what your making isn’t receiving attention?”

Shabana Azeez and Mackenzie Fearnley

JACK: “It comes down to a method thing. There will be a day when it looks like what you want to make or maybe even better. But then another questions arises which is do I really care about this? Now that you can do it is it something you truly want to say. When you are young you can focus on learning how to make films but then be aware that the harder challenge is what to do with that.”

JIM: “From a more practical perspective it is easy to get caught up in the trap of the filmmaking success being where you get your joy in life. I think the challenge is what can I do to be happy in my life as a struggling filmmaker. If you aren’t happy struggling, you won’t be happy successful. Getting good reception to a movie, everyone is surprised by how little that does for you on self-perception and how happy you are in life.”

JACK: “There was a big trap in film school where people thought their third-year film was going to be “it” and the best thing they have made. But it should just be a process where you are looking ahead.”

FRAZIER: “There has been this recent shift in the last 5 years with Australian films and the direction they are moving. I was just wondering your perspective on where it’s going and where you want the film scene to move and explore?”

JIM: “I am feeling very optimistic. I have met a lot of aspiring filmmakers and directors who have such interesting things to say. There is a trend of filmmakers playing with different genres which is something I definitely want to see continue.”

JACK: “I want to see something we didn’t do and that is more stuff in cities. Maybe it is a self-defence thing, but we push our movies away where there is nobody else. I saw films shot in Sydney and I was so excited to see films shot here. A good Sydney drama would be nice and I will be happy. But I am very excited because there are so many young filmmakers coming up.


A Conversation with Writer/ Director Angus Kirby

Angus Kirby is a Brisbane based filmmaker. Over the last few years, he has made countless short films that have screened in festivals around the world. A personal favourite of mine is a short called Desperate Pleasures which follows the unlikely relationship of a cocaine dealing real estate agent and a lonely woman. Recently, he released The Odd River, an album film created for singer Helen Svoboda. On top of this, Angus is in post production on his first feature film – Carnal Vessels. Read on for my conversation with Angus.

Talking The Odd River

Can you give just a rough summary of what the Odd River is?

“Deep in nature, out of time, through a river portal, a young woman discovers a genetically modified food source that gives her strange visions of the end of the natural world.”

“Essentially, it is an album film made as part of a grant called the Freedman Jazz Fellowship that Helen Svoboda and I applied for. The idea was that she would make an album and I would make an film in response to it.”

How long ago did the creation of this project begin?

“It was right around COVID. We were going to do this in 2020 and then COVID happened, and it was put on hold. We ended up shooting throughout 2022.”

How did you work with Helen to create it? Is it entirely based on your ideas or more of a collaboration?

“The film is my vison but everything was communicated with Helen beforehand. She knew the outline of the whole thing. It was a lot of trust on both ends. But she did let me really go for it.“

What did each day on set look like?

“I did a lot of camera tests beforehand because we shot it anamorphic. We had this ethos of everything in nature had to be natural light. It was about embracing what nature was going to give us. We had a studio section as well which was all artificial. We had just a key light and an edge light and then did some stuff with coloured LED wands to flare the lens. It was essentially a lot of preparation so that we had freedom on the day.”

The Odd River has these core themes of nature and the environment. Is this something you view as a golden thread for the future of your work or specific to this short?

“It is specific to this because I saw the opportunity do it. It is something I just didn’t know what else to say that hadn’t been said. With this, it felt like the chance to do something that was paired with Helen’s music. I wanted to try and capture the feeling of nature being much bigger than we are.”

Since it feels like a dream, do you often use your own dreams as inspiration?

“When I can remember them but it is more the feeling of the dream rather than the details. The dread of climate change and how overwhelming it is is a feeling that I wanted to replicate.”

Other projects

Can you talk about how you write? In terms of your specific process, do you do it every day, do you find it challenging?

“It has changed a little bit. I mainly outline before I start writing. My high school English teacher told me you spend two thirds of your time outlining. I took this over to screenwriting. I write everything from the outline to the first draft by hand. When you write by hand you’re not thinking critically.”

“I have never really written every day when I am not focused on a project. I may do it for a day or two and then come back to it.”

Desperate Pleasures, Now a Minor Motion Picture, Stolen Glances, they all have this incredible balance of comedy and drama.  Is there a specific filmmaker you use as inspiration for this tone or is it more your own instincts?

“It is more my own instinct. I like it when you can have those different tones next to each other at the same time. But my early hero was Jim Jarmusch.  Pedro Almodóvar as well, he just has the template for any great film career. If there’s one filmmaker I aspire to be like in terms of tone its Pedro. He is definitely my idol.“

Carnal Vessels is an upcoming feature film you have recently finished shooting. Can you just give us a log line about what this film is about?

“It’s about these two young friends who swap bodies the moment they fall in love. It throws everything into chaos as they both go off into different sexually charged adventures as each other over a weekend.”

How did you manage to shoot a feature in such a short amount of time?

“We did it within the master’s program at Griffith University. I have spent the last 5 years tutoring at the film school, so I had connections there. I also had students keen to get on set who were in their first or second year who were very talented. I had made a few shorts and I had enough confidence to go for it.”

“We made it quickly, but it was still a generous schedule. The feature was shot in 24 days, and it was a 75-page script. A lot of it came down to the circumstance I found myself in. But it was also a decade of build up from shorts, gathering collaborators and building up trust.

“But you can do this for 15k with a small crew and a tiny camera and make something that looks and sounds incredible. We are at this exciting point where you have these consumer cameras that if you know your post workflow well and have a creative eye you can make something amazing.”

The Future

Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?

“I know the Government has promised it but I hope there is a quota system that happens soon. Especially with TV too because it is the core of the industry. We have seen it done in Europe successfully so why can’t we do it here. I also wish for more aggressive investment in local productions and just figuring out how to market Australian films successfully. It comes down to how do we do better, how do we get the film seen more and how can we make things that are culturally important and also commercial.”

Dream film wish?

“To be in a situation where I knew I could do this forever and not have to do much else. Also, a good on set masseuse.”

Go see the Odd River on the 30th of November at the Palace Cinemas. Buy tickets below!

All photos taken by Daniel Rafet Grima.


A Conversation with Kenny Waterson

Kenny Waterson is a Sunshine Coast based filmmaker and stand-up comedian. Recently, his film Unsung Heroes was selected into the Sunshine Coast Film Festival. The documentary follows three volunteers at a community football club in regional Queensland. The short explores themes of purpose and passion as it makes the audience question why we do what love. It deeply affected me as I looked at the people in my own life and questioned why they devote so much time to things I once considered “pointless.”  Read on for my conversation with Kenny.

Talking Unsung Heroes

What grabbed you about this story?

“I was initially intrigued by Rick Bastian (Kenny’s coach). He is this eccentric Dutch guy that takes social football seriously. I had watched the All or Nothing documentaries and Ted Lasso and I thought it could be funny to follow the reserves of a local football club. When I got into it, I realised it was a shallow story but overtime I started focusing on this question about why these volunteers give their time for a club.” 

How long it took to shoot this documentary?

“I started filming in March of 2022 with Rick. I stopped filming at the end of the season in October.”

What each day of shooting looked like?

“I work full time so I knew playing at the club that I would be their two nights a week. It fit in around then. I would finish work on Friday afternoon and do an interview with the talent in the evening. Then the following day I would be shooting the football games with another camera operator.”

How do you keep focused on the documentary when you don’t know where the story will end up?

“I focus on documenting what I am interested in. I have played football all my life and it’s been a big part of my family life.”

How do you balance full time work with making a documentary and doing standup?

“I work as a full-time editor for a production company 5 minutes from home. Having a job that’s in the industry has taken a massive weight off my shoulders and helped blossom my creativity. It takes the financial pressure off everything so I can focus on the creative side.”

Talking Standup

Your process writing jokes for stand-up?

“I try to be aware of my surroundings and my life. Things will come to me and there will be a specific feeling and I write it down in my notes. I set aside about half an hour to an hour to write. Most of these ideas are trash but it just revolves around cycling through them all constantly.”

Where do you want to move for stand-up comedy?

“A lot of my favourite shows are mockumentaries like the Office and Chris Lilley shows. I would love to get to a point where I can produce, write or perform in or for a show like that.”

Talking Films

Favourite documentaries that inspired you?

“A film I love is called Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog. It inspired me to seek out characters like that because they are out there, you have to just be open to being interested in others.”

Four of your favourite films?

Grizzly Man. I loved animation growing up so Toy Story was my favourite childhood film. Comedy wise definitely Superbad. My favourite drama film is Slumdog Millionaire.”

What is next for you / what are you working on?

“My immediate future is trying to get as many people watching Unsung Heroes. I am also moving overseas to London. That is kind of in pursuit of other projects. I really just want to build upon what I learnt from this project.”


A Conversation with the Crew of My Tai

A few months ago, I saw an Instagram account promoting a feature film in Brisbane. I instantly followed it and started seeing more and more behind the scenes photos. In each post, it seemed like a new location, more actors and more incredible set pieces. I was so intrigued by what this film was about that I knew I had to get an interview with the creators.

Jake Ashton (left) and Ruben Wilkinson (right)

Hannah Smith is the director of My Tai. She has worked on countless feature films like Love and Monsters, Godzilla vs Kong and the Portable Door. In 2021, she created the short film The Empyrean which was a selection for the St Kilda Film Festival.

Jake Ashton is the writer of My Tai and plays Noah, one of the leads. He was also a lead in the show Friends of Atticus and voiced AJ the Rooster in Cluck!

Abdul Mateen (A.M) also known as Kash, is the producer of My Tai.” He is currently in post-production on his graduate short film – Welcome to the Esh Life. He also created the short film Disconnected which follows a First Generation immigration struggling to find his identity.


FRAZER: Could everyone just go around and introduce themselves, and their roles in this film?

JAKE: I wrote the film and I play one of the two leads – Noah. Also, I am a producer…

HANNAH: With the indie life, it makes him a producer.

JAKE: My two producing credits are this and Dune.

HANNAH: I am the director and producer #indielife. Jake and I are unwilling producers but AM is the actual producer.

AM: I got to produce for these two amazing humans.

FRAZIER: I feel like I should say I am a producer now as well.

AM: The gofund me is still live if you want to be one…

Mathias O Neil (left) Kash (right) with Bear (dog).


FRAZIER: Jake could you just give me a rough log line about My Tai?

JAKE: My Tai is about a bartender named Tai who is trying to make a masterpiece cocktail. He is named after a Mai Tai cocktail which his grandfather made. As a result, he has lived in the shadow of that his whole life. With a tropical cyclone coming in to destroy his beachside bar, he only has a couple of days to figure out the cocktail.

FRAZIER: For you Kash and Hannah what really grabbed you about this project?

Ruben Wilkinson on set

HANNAH: I was able to read it through the lens of Jake and Ruben. I knew without a doubt it would be a hilarious project. But for AM he had no choice.

JAKE: Yeah we had actually kidnapped his family. Their safe return was quiet the incentive.

AM: It played a small part… But what actually grabbed me was that I just sat there and instantly read through 40 pages of the script. The script was just so fucking entertaining.

HANNAH: It is refreshing to have an Australian comedy that’s a genuine comedy.

FRAZIER: I have seen the BTS photos, and I truly have no idea what is going to happen.  But just taking it back a little, I want to dive into your writing process Jake and how you got a screenplay completed?

JAKE: It was January 20th, 2022. I had ten days while we were working from home because of COVID, and I wanted to write a movie in ten days. I wanted to write a script for Ruben because he is so funny and charismatic.  I got it done in ten days, printed it off and gave it to him and was like “dude I wrote you a movie.” I didn’t think about it again. At the time, I was also writing a movie for Hannah. She ended up reading the script and messaged me saying we should make this.

FRAZIER: I can’t even get something written in a month…

JAKE: The biggest help for me in order to get something written quickly is to say to yourself “this can be terrible.” Just let it be terrible, who cares.

Jake Ashton (left) and Hannah Smith (right) on set

FRAZIER: For you Kash, what were some of the biggest problems you faced and overcame in producing an indie feature film?

AM: Locations were our biggest challenge initially. We didn’t know what the bar was going to be or where it was going to be. Huge shout out to Darrin Smith, one of the best construction coordinators in Australia. Not only did he build us an incredible bar with his team but also did it inside his home, allowing us to use his space to comfortably film. Another massive challenge was our preproduction time which was less than 2 months. We were just trying to make it work in the 2 months that we had. If the crew wasn’t passionate about getting this to life, it wouldn’t have happened.

FRAZIER: Hannah, how do you balance keeping true to the script while allowing for improv?

HANNAH: As long as I get a take I am happy with, I am totally happy to throw the script out the window. Jake and Ruben are really good improvisational comedic actors. I also like not calling cut and letting a scene sit for way too long because then magic always happens.

FRAZIER: For you Jake and Hannah, what were some film inspirations when you were re writing the script?

JAKE: Anchorman, Zoolander, Naked Gun, Flying High, Top Secret. We talked a lot about how it felt like a live action cartoon like the Simpsons. I love comedies where it’s just machine gun jokes.

Hannah smith (left) David Aponas – DP (right)

HANNAH: Naked Gun is like my favourite. Any Leslie Nielsen movie was just perfect.

FRAZIER: Hannah do you have a specific style for shooting, or does it change depending on the project?

HANNAH: I think I am consistent in what I like and now I’m more confident on a set I make sure I push for it. I love my wide shots and I really love delving in and building a world from the ground up, so I think stylistically a film is built from the ground up as well!

Jake Ashton (left) Hannah smith (right)

FRAZIER: I was just wondering if I could get everyone’s core piece of advice after completing the shooting of a feature film?

AM: Getting the right people. It will help you conquer any challenges. We had a 17 page shoot day and having the right people made it work and made it successful.

HANNAH: Momentum. In our early days, we had a meeting 2 months out. We were debating whether to push it back till the following year or do we keep the momentum going. We chose to keep it going and it was truly lightning in a bottle.

JAKE: We also never set out to make a movie that was the most popular genre. We didn’t want to appease anyone but ourselves. You must make the thing your passionate about – no matter what the story it is. Just surround yourself with good people and make what you want to make.


FRAZIER: What is your one dream film wish?

JAKE: When the movie wrapped, we all went to see Barbie, so getting to work with Greta Gerwig would be the dream.

Hannah (left) Jeffrey Walker EP (middle) Jake (right)

HANNAH: I would love to work with Del Toro because he is my hero. Also working on a Spiderman movie. But I have a feature of my own that represents everything I want to put out into the world. I have always said that “if I can make this one movie, I don’t care what happens after that.”

AM: There is a project I would love to create and show run. It is a series that is superhero oriented. It would be a mix of the Boys and Invincible. It would be low scale series that would slowly become bigger. Another core dream is a Bollywood film that becomes global. It would encompass everything I have learned growing up in all these different places.

FRAZIER: Where do you all want the Australian film scene to move in the next 5 to 10 years?

Jake Ashton (left) Ruben Wilkinson (right)

JAKE:  I think the future of our industry is built entirely on us being inclusive of all people in our community. To make sure we are not just pidgeon holing the type of work that people from all communities are able to make. The idea that anyway from minority group are being told “yes they might be able to make something” but only specifically this. I hope the future includes all group while allowing them to make every type of film.

HANNAH: I think introducing more genre and bigger budget into Australian film and Television would be great! There is a shift coming and our content is already changing, but I feel like, generally, our stuff is very safe and we can go much bigger and much bolder.

AM: They are trying harder to say they are being diverse, but these stories aren’t diverse. It’s very specific formulaic storytelling. I did a test with my international friends a few years ago. I played different movies form UK, US and Australia. I asked them to tell me which movie was from which country and unless a film was set in a desert with a strong accent they didn’t know it was Australian. I hope Australia embraces its multiculturalism and explores stories from cultures and perspectives we’ve never seen or heard from before.

The Crew of My Tai

Below is the link for the films Go Fund me if you want to support this incredible project!

All photos taken by Dylan Robbins


Kiara Mezzina on her award winning short film ‘Nino’

Kiara Mezzina is a Gold Coast based writer and director. Last year, she completed her graduate film “Nino’ which follows a little boy from Italy as he navigates Australian culture with the guidance of his cousin Salvo. The film has screened at countless festivals and is a testament to the talent and work ethic of Kiara. Read on for more.

Talking Nino

Where did this idea come from?

“It’s a story about my father. My family are immigrants from Italy. They always told me stories of growing up in Australia and how they were treated. I really wanted to bring that to light.”

Your writing process, day in and day out. What writing looks like for you?

“My attention span isn’t that great. Writing a beat sheet and planning a treatment doesn’t really work for me. I write dot points for the beginning middle and end and then I get into writing the script.”

“Since it was my dad’s story, it was a big collaboration with him. The writing sessions were sitting with him and then trying to translate it into a film.”

What were the struggles of shooting it in this time period and in Italian?

““We had a limited amount of people show up for auditions as we needed young boys who could speak and act in Italian. A very niche pool in Queensland. Me and my dad went door knocking around Italian restaurants, cafes, and areas. That’s how we found some of my actors and extras.”

“I grew up listening to Italian because my family speak it. I understand it but can’t speak it. We had an Italian translator come on board. She translated it in a formal way but when the actors came on board, they changed the dialogue to make it sound more natural.”

“We were shooting on the Gold Coast, which isn’t a particularly old city. We had to door knock on period appropriate houses to ask if we could shoot at people’s place. Eventually we had an older couple who were super nice and let us use their house.”

How do you maintain motivation during the three different stages of production?

“Having a good group of friends and having your family support you. My family was the best. Also, my editor Connor Wikaira was super supportive and kept me going when it got really hard.”

Talking Movies

What films and filmmakers inspired Nino

“Cinema Paradiso was the number one influence on this film. The tone, feel and nostalgia of this film was something I was trying to replicate. It also balances some hard hitting themes with a light hearted undercurrent.”

Favourite films and filmmakers?

“Cinema Paradiso, Some like it Hot, The Birdcage and Back to the Future.”

“For filmmakers its controversial but Woody Allen really inspired my love for period dramas and contemporary dialogue. Greta Gerwig and  I know its stereotypical but Tarantino.”

One filmmaking wish?

“If I could go back in time, I would want to be a part of the writer’s room for the Office. I love the idea of consistent work every week on a comedy show.”

Talking the Future

Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?

“I think we really need to start looking at how we can tell stories in 1-3 minutes for socials. I know it sucks but its where the industry is moving.  I want to try and find ways of telling stories in the shortest amount of time.”

What is next for you / are you working on anything new?

“I am collaborating with someone from Nino on a TV series. We are currently just writing it. We are hoping to pitch that at some point. It’s like an Australian version of stranger things. I am also working on an online series about dating and single life.”

Film Reviews

Spider-man Across the Spider-verse Non Spoiler Review

Spider-man Into the Spider-verse was one of the best films of 2018 and perhaps the best superhero film of all time. It was a smash hit that balanced comedy, action and drama in a way animation has never done before. Now 5 years later we are finally getting one of the most anticipated sequels of the decade. But does it live up to the hype of the previous film or does it fall flat to recreate the same magic?

You cannot talk about this film without first diving into the animation. It is the most creative and clever use of this medium I have ever seen. Every character has their own style and each world truly feels separate from the others. In particular Gwen Stacy’s world. The way the animations move and flow, based on the dialogue, is incredible. I am so glad they took 5 years to put this film out because every single frame truly feels like a hand drawn painting.

What I loved about the first movie was the dynamic between Miles, his Uncle Aaron, and his father. It had some heartfelt moments that I was hoping would be kept in the sequel. Across the Spider-verse has an even stronger focus on family. Miles, Gwen, Peter B Parker and Miguel O Hara are all driven by their family. But what really made me love this film was the moments between Miles and his parents. Each scene felt personal and touching in a way I wasn’t expecting. I never got tired of these scenes and honestly preferred them over the action set pieces.

Across the Spider-verse has some of the best voice acting in animation. It doesn’t feel like any of these actors were cast for their fame, but instead because of their talent as voice actors. The returning cast is equally as captivating while the new characters almost steal the show. Daniel Kaluuya as Spider-Punk and Jason Schwartzman as the Spot are so charming and charismatic that I want to see them in their own films. They both have a strong character development over the movie that completely surprised me.

One core problem with every Sony movie ever made is the marketing. Once again, Sony showed basically every sequence from this film to the point where I knew where the movie was going. Now I didn’t even watch most of the trailers and still felt I knew way too much going in (I won’t be watching any trailer for the final part).

Most superhero films coming out have some pretty bland action set pieces. It’s usually two people with the same skill set doing karate or shooting lasers at each other. Lord and Miller knew this and knew they needed to subvert it. Every action scene in this film is incredible. The fast-paced animation and chaotic nature feels refreshing and engaging in a way a live action film simply couldn’t do.

Minor Spoilers

Across the Spider-verse is part one of two parts. Now if you didn’t know this, I think the ending might be a little frustrating. At first, I didn’t love the conclusion as it felt unsatisfying and I didn’t have any closure for this film. However, as I have thought about it more and more, I started to love the idea of keeping the audience hooked for a final movie. It feels like a big event now and makes me even more hyped for the final film.

Should you see Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse?

Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse is one of the best animated films I have ever seen. Even if you have no interest in superhero films it is at its core an excellent family film. It moves at a brilliant pace that wastes no time and keeps you engaged from start to finish. The writing is funny, heartfelt, and never feels forced or tiring. Go and see this film in cinemas, it is truly a cinematic event.


From indie feature film to working with the ABC – A Conversation with Filmmaker Nat Kelly

Nat photographed by Sophie Turner

Nat Kelly is an Australian filmmaker, reporter, and TV presenter. He has made multiple award-winning short films, written and directed a feature film and web series and now works as a reporter and presenter for Behind the News.

 As soon as I discovered Nat’s work I was fascinated. At such a young age he has already accomplished so much and still constantly puts out shorts while working as a reporter.  Nat is truly an inspiration for indie filmmakers and this conversation made me excited for the future of Australian films.

Short Films

Where did your filmmaking journey really begin?

“When I was 5 or 6 I was interested in video cameras. Me and my sister had one camcorder which we would use to film and pretend we were newscasters. The whole storytelling side came when I was 10 when I was involving my sisters and friends to make skits.”

How did After Tracy change your filmmaking journey?

“I really appreciate what it did for me at the time and what it meant for me and my friends. It gave us a lot of confidence to go forward and make other things.”

How have you consistently put out so many short films in such a short period of time? (Process)

“Sometimes we want to make a film so bad that we write it that afternoon and shoot it the next day. The ones that take a bit longer have to be done in the holidays.”

We’re Family Now?

Can you run through the process making an indie feature film?

“I was rewriting the film as we were shooting. We were casting as we were going as well (something which is reflected in the costumes). It was all us – me, Thomas, Max, Joseph and my sister. Having such a small crew made us really bond and develop a shorthand. It was a lot of admin cause I knew no one who wanted to produce.”

Most challenging parts of shooting a feature

Nat Kelly (left) and Joseph Baronion (right) on set

“The biggest hurdle was writing. My struggle was actually putting pen to paper. Once it was done, it became the on set morale. There is this uphill battle of trying to get your crew on board with your ideas. The pressure is on me to giving them everything they need. But eventually you reach a point where you are getting feedback and collaborating together. It takes the pressure off you and makes the end result better.”

How did selling out a cinema feel?

“It felt validating for us because we had only made short films before. Feature films had always been a bar to reach and once we hit it, it was a bucket list item ticked off.”

Fracketty Frack

Your process writing Fracketty Frack

“It was inspired by the Government in the NT threatening to lift the fracking ban. I put a line of tape across a wall and put beats in between as I think of ideas. We wrote it originally as a feature and they didn’t want a feature so we changed it to a web series. It took me around 4 months to write.”

How did Screen Australia and Screen Territories grant help?

“It was really good. They were very hands off. I only had funding to write the script and not the actual production. It was almost like I had all the control over the production. I only wished it got a bit bigger towards the end since it was a screen Australia project.”                                  

Cast / crew of Fracketty Frack

What has making a webs series taught you?

“One key thing it taught me was being okay to rewrite on set. Being close with the writer or being the writer yourself helps make sure you know what is best for the story. Nothing is sacred, you just have to care for the final project.”

Behind the News

Nat on Behind the News

What have you learnt from working on an ABC News Program?

“It’s taught me the skill of being okay with repetition. It’s about bringing freshness to it every day and always keeping it entertaining.”

How has running Behind the News helped you with your filmmaking skills?

“It’s ultimately helped me hone my skills every day to being able to make content as quickly as possible. It has given me the confidence to make my own stuff quicker cause I know I can make 5 minutes of content daily.”


4 of your favourite movies?

The Castle, Hunt for the Wilder People, Hot Fuzz. There’s also one film that I have never told anyone because it is ridiculous. It is Thomas and the Magic Railroad. I think what fascinates me about it is the production woes it had have taught me a lot about filmmaking. The making of it is more interesting than the actual film.”

Nat Kelly (middle) and Thomas Field (right) on set

Who are your biggest filmmaking influences?

I love everything Working Dog do. I love the way they work; they just make something no matter what. That ethos of lets just do something is something I love. Also, Taika Waititi and Edgar Wright.”

What is your one film wish?

“I would love to be involved with a Wes Anderson film. Especially the Art Department.

The Future

If you want to say, what is next for you?

“I really want to make some short films. I would also love to make another longer film for storytelling reasons. It’s more of an event and people sit around together to watch your film.”

Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?

“I would like to see the Australian film industry pivot in a way where there is more of an opportunity for filmmakers to take risks. We have some amazing talent that I would love to see more of.”

Film Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 (No Spoiler) Review

The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out almost 10 years ago. It was an instant hit and loved by Marvel fans and normies alike. However, I don’t think this film gets the praise it deserves. GOTG changed superhero and action blockbusters forever. Due to its critical and commercial success, studios were suddenly willing to take more risks on weirder properties. On top of this, countless other franchises took heavy inspiration from Gunn’s comedic tone, colours and soundtrack. Thereby, the question becomes does Gunn’s style still hold up or has it been ruined by the onslaught of MCU films?

James Gunn has written perhaps the best script the MCU has ever seen. It is a touching and heartbreaking story that has very powerful themes behind it. The film focuses on compassion for all living things but comes from a place that’s feels earnest and genuine. At no point in Guardians 3 did I feel I was being beaten over the head with exposition or characters trying to tell me what the film was about.

What is perhaps even more challenging is balancing these themes alongside humour. Unlike most MCU movies, Guardians of the Galaxy 3’s jokes never feel draining or quippy. Instead, it uses the characters personalities to create humour. I love this decision to hold back on the jokes because when they were in the film they felt that much more effective and punchy. In my cinema at least, no line ever missed the mark and was always met with laughs.

As you have seen from the trailers, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is a story about Rocket Raccoon. We dive into his creation with flashbacks throughout the movie. These scenes were a constant gut punch that always touched the right heart strings. It transformed this pretty two-dimensional character into one of the most layered and complex heroes in the MCU. All of this was accomplished through amazing voice acting by Bradley Cooper and some astonishing VFX work.  

While diving into the backstory of Rocket, Gunn still manages to balance the rest of the Guardians. Chris Pratt made me care for StarLord once again. He has an excellent arc that wraps up his previous mistakes while showing why he is the leader of this group. Zoe Saldana displays how different this Gamora is through her rage and morality. I also loved how Gunn doesn’t try to transform her back to her old self but sticks with this version of Gamora.

But for me Dave Bautista as Drax and Pom Klementieff as Mantis stole the show. They are such talented comedic actors that make every scene they’re in 10x better. This duo just have a brilliant chemistry that I would watch in movies that aren’t linked to the MCU. I do think there could have been more time contributed to Groot as he deals with some heavy emotions. He is a core character who never really got as much of an arc as I would have liked (I know it’s probably cause of how expensive he is).

On the other side of our heroes is the villain. It goes without saying that superhero films have a track record for weak villains but in GOTG 3 it is the complete opposite. Chukwudi Iwuji plays the High Evolutionary and delivers a stellar performance. He is an awful and delusional man who you truly despise. I think Gunn understood that too many MCU movies have villains who have good intentions and thereby wanted to go the complete opposite direction. The High Evolutionary maybe a simple villain with basic ambitions but he is a man you will truly hate.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is the most unique MCU movie I have ever seen. Amongst what I have said earlier, I think that there are two core reasons for this. Firstly, the designs. Every single movie Gunn makes gets weirder and grosser, but GOTG 3 is at the top of that list. The costumes, set designs and VFX all lead to this disgusting world that feels so refreshing amongst the MCU. Now at times, the VFX don’t hold up but it never took me out of the movie.

The second reason this film feels so unique is the violence and action. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 utilises gore and horror in a way even Raimi didn’t do. Some scenes were so brutal it had people in the audience looking in the opposite direction. But Gunn always brings us back to that fun and playful action he is famous for. In particular, there is a one take action scene unlike anything I have ever seen. It is easily one of the best marvel fight sequences and a brilliant achievement by Gunn and the crew.

While the Guardians movies are famous for their comedy, action and characters there is something perhaps that tops even this – the music. Those first two movies use music in a way that filmmakers have been copying ever since. But truthfully, this films music did not live up to the hype. While I love a lot of the songs in GOTG 3, it did not have the same tone and impact as the other movies. It honestly just felt like a few songs Gunn loves instead of a soundtrack that match the characters.

James Gunn has finished this trilogy off with the best film in the series and perhaps the best Marvel movie yet. It balances different themes, genres and styles but never feels like it loses its focus. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is a three-hour movie that feels like 2 and is perfect for the cinemas. It’s ending made me realise how much I will miss these characters and value James Gunn as a filmmaker. His movies just get better and better and if I am Marvel I am shaking in my boots for the future of DC.

Film Reviews

Beau is Afraid (Non Spoiler Review)

Ari Aster has certified himself as one of the best directors working right now. With only two films under his belt, there is nothing he makes I wouldn’t see. Thereby, Beau is Afraid was one of my most anticipated movies of 2023. Like everyone else, I had absolutely no clue what it was about, but I trusted Ari. So, on a Sunday night I went to the cinema to see an 8:30 screening of this film. I had heard some things about Beau is Afraid but nothing could prepare me for those next three hours.

I will be honest. I don’t even know where to start with this film. There are so many different layers of themes, subtext and motifs that writing this review scared me. So, let’s start with the basics…

Beau is Afraid is a very entertaining and gripping movie. As soon as the lights went dark, I was invested in this world and character. Despite having absolutely no clue what was happening for 80% of it, I was intrigued by this adventure. But there is a core problem with the movie that is being brought up a lot – the run time. You truly feel the weight of those three hours. It has scenes that stretch on for too long and a lot of that fat needs to be trimmed. I understand Ari Aster wants to put you in the protagonist’s shoes but for a lot of this movie I simply wanted it to move on.

Ari Aster introduces a completely new type of horror. Beau is Afraid is about feeling what our protagonist feels. Ari wants the audience to feel as trapped, afraid and confused of the world as Beau does. He accomplishes this expertly through horrific imagery, a chaotic plot and evil characters. Even sequences that seem normal have this uncanny and upsetting vibe to them – a perfect representation of Beau’s anxiety.

Something that isn’t being talked about with this film is how funny it is. Throughout Beau is Afraid, there are these simple lines or props that instantly made my audience laugh out loud. In moments of high tension, it was an excellent break that made the 3-hour run time feel slightly shorter.

The performances in Beau is Afraid are incredible. Joaquin Phoenix can paint 15 different versions of fear and anxiety across his face in a way I have never seen done before. Even when Beau seems at peace there is this subtle neurotic nature that is bubbling below the surface. Joaquin just makes this very heightened and exaggerated world feel real through an earnest and sincere performance. On the other hand, I love how the other actors felt so over the top and exaggerated. In particular, Patti Lupone, Nathan Lane and Kylie Rogers all bring something new to these insane characters. As a result, it once again makes us feel Beau’s anxiety towards the people around him.

In a conversation between Martin Scorsese and Ari, Martin kept mentioning the technical skill of Ari Aster in Hereditary and Midsommar. In Beau is Afraid, it is at an all-time high. The angles, slight pans, blocking, production design, editing and lighting are truly ahead of their time. Every single detail of this film amplifies that anxious and muddled vibe. It is so effective in making the audience feel on edge that I drove home feeling uneasy. Every crew member of Beau is Afraid has added to building a world not to dissimilar from the Shining.  

Ultimately, Beau is Afraid is about evoking a feeling in the audience. I think a lot of viewers will get too wrapped up in an explanation or a deeper meaning. However, I think Aster wants one simple thing with this film – to impart his own anxieties and therapy sessions onto them. It is about understanding the psyche of Beau and so many other people struggling with serious mental health issues. To me, Aster has one goal with this film and accomplishes it perfectly.

Should you watch Beau is Afraid?

Beau is Afraid will be the most divisive film of 2023. If you don’t know how crazy this film is going in, I don’t think you will enjoy it. But if you go in embracing the strange elements and long run time you will love it like I did.

Film Reviews

Does AIR deserve the hype? (Review)

Air is a 2023 Drama written by Alex Convery and directed by Ben Affleck. It is set in the 1980s as Sonny Vaccaro and Nike attempt to pursue Michael Jordan for a shoe deal to change sports culture forever. Now I love basketball, but when I saw the trailer for this film it didn’t seem that interesting. Nevertheless, reviews started popping up saying this film was incredible. So as usual, I trekked out to the cinemas on Easter with a bag of snacks and a drink in my hand to see Air two days after its release.

Air has a solid script that kept me entertained throughout the entire film. But truthfully, I think it kind of stops there. The film is fun and light but just doesn’t have the same impact as other sport films like Moneyball. It wants to have these deeper themes of systemic change and the process but never feels truly there. I think it comes down to the goal of its core characters. Unlike Billy Beane’s drive to change baseball in Moneyball, Air’s core characters simply want to make more sales for their company. Essentially, Air just doesn’t have the same stakes and weight as other sport dramas.

FILE PHOTO: Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Matt Damon, Julius Tennon, Jason Bateman, and Chris Tucker attend the world premiere of “AIR” at Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2023. REUTERS/Lauren Justice

What carries this film is the cast. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Tucker and Jason Bateman are extremely entertaining to watch on screen. Their banter, wit and charisma is what makes this film fly by. But as I said before, these characters simply lack any real development. I am sure it was a purposeful decision to not explore these men in too much detail but I really believe it negatively impacts this film. Even our main character – Sonny Vaccaro – feels very two dimensional and bland. Except for a small story by Jason Bateman, none of them have any moments that feel heartfelt and earnest.

An artistic choice of Ben Affleck was to not have Michael Jordan’s face or voice in Air at all. Now I get what they were going for when you have Voila Davis in the film. She is an incredible actor who gives a tough and steely performance but this decision felt very weird. Every time Michael was in a scene it completely took me out of the moment as they awkwardly cut around his face. I get the story isn’t about him, but I think a different choice would have been much more natural.

Incredible performance by Chris Messina.

Should you see Air?

Air is an enjoyable film that will keep you entertained from start to finish. It has great performances by some big names that carry the film over the line. However, it is lacking that extra layer of meaning that a truly exceptional sport film requires. I would see this film in cinemas if you are looking for something fun and simple to watch.